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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Don't Be Alarmed?

Have you ever relaxed at the end of a long day? Your feet are raised, drink by your side, and lap covered with a project that’s been waiting for attention. When you’re good and settled in, the inevitable happens—the phone rings—and the receiver’s in the other room.

You scramble to get everything out of your lap, fight to lower the footrest, and race to get to the phone on time. It’s a set-up for disaster. Even if you don’t stumble in the rush, papers escape and slide across the floor, glue spills, or straight pins scatter across the carpet!

You almost drop the phone because you’re still clutching things in your hand. Before you have a chance to say, “Hello,” an obviously canned voice drones, “Don’t be alarmed, but this is your final notice for . . .”

“Don’t be alarmed?” Why “alarmed”? Does a recording warn me not to be alarmed because the sender knows I could have broken my neck trying to get to the phone? Alarmed? I never dreamed of being alarmed.

Why doesn’t she say, “Don’t be angry”? That would better fit my likely reaction.

“This is your final notice?” How many times can you get a final notice? We’ve gotten this final notice for several weeks already. I would not be alarmed about getting a final notice. . . . Pleeease let me get a final notice.

We’ve gotten another regular call with a professional, pleasant-enough female voice. Her message is interrupted with a pause followed by a lower, gruffer, obviously computer generated sound inserting “Rudy Little” into the message. After another short pause, the female voice continues. She says, “Hello. I’m looking for [Rudy Little.] If you are [Rudy Little], please press 1.”

Is she really looking for Rudy Little? Or is she trying to get me to press 1 to hear the rest of the spiel? Does she really expect me to do that—especially when it’s a recording, not a person, that asked me to press 1?

To make matters worse, the calls are never convenient. They’re always when I’m stirring the gravy, eating, in the middle of an important conversation, or when I’ve just settled into a project that should have been completed last month. Fortunately, the two calls mentioned above are recordings. It’s easier to hang up on a machine.

When it’s a real person on the line, I’m more sympathetic. I figure it’s somebody trying to feed a family. I hate to discourage someone who has finally found a job and is trying. (After all, who would choose such a job unless it was a last resort?) Besides, I hate to be rude to a real person.

I try to be nice as I tell them I’m busy, not interested, or whatever and get off the phone as quickly as I can. However, if they push and press and won’t take a “no,” I can hang up on a real person too.

You know, in all of those calls, I don’t think I’ve ever been alarmed. Not once. But I have gotten angry. I’ve been irritated because I was interrupted, had to start something over, or was further delayed when I was already late. I’ve gotten angry about the invasion into my home and time. I’ve especially gotten mad when the intruder won’t listen when I say “no.” How dare they force themselves on me after invading my home!

But you know what? I finally realized that when I let myself get mad, it’s like inviting the intruder to stay around after I hang up. The anger invades my privacy and disturbs my peace long after the caller is gone. Why should I give a stranger—or a recording—that power over me? Besides, God tells us,

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:26-27, NIV).

The calls are still a nuisance, but I’ve decided to keep it to a minimum—by not getting mad and prolonging the bother.

Don’t be alarmed? Giving the enemy a foothold over such a small matter—now, that’s reason to be alarmed.

Copyright © Kay Camenisch. Used by permission.

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